Three Value Clarification Exercises

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Three Values Clarification Exercises

I usually have the students do Alligator River, and Ranking Values in groups of 2 or 3. I do the Four Bottle Problem by reading the story to the whole class and having each student share their choice and why.

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Rank the characters: Pat, Chris, Blutto, Mr. Gates, and Popeye in order from least to most horrible. What ideals do each character seem to value? What is the difference between taking an active role versus being a passive player play in your ranking? Think about what you do when you are faced with a situation where any choice will be aligned with some of your values but in conflict with others?

Alligator River

Once there were two lovers, Pat and Chris, who lived on the opposite shores of Alligator River (which, as the name implies, is filled with human eating alligators). Everything was going along smoothly until a storm came and washed away the bridge (but interestingly enough did not wash away the alligators), and Pat and Chris were stranded on opposite shores from one another. Now this was in very olden times and the bridge wasn’t going to be repaired soon, and it was a very dangerous 6 day trip in either direction to find a working bridge. Pat and Chris pined for one another. For Pat it was especially hard and life seemed not worth living if Pat could not be with Chris.

The only imaginable way across the river was on a boat owned and operated by Blutto. Blutto was getting rich ferrying important rich people and expensive merchandise across the river. Unfortunately, Pat and Chris were very poor and Pat could not afford the toll. Pat begged and pleaded with Blutto to get passage across the river. Pat appealed to Blutto’s sense of love and mercy, but Blutto was having none of it. Finally Blutto says he’ll take Pat across if Pat will spend the night having wild passionate sex with him. Pat is horrified. Pat and Chris have promised to be exclusive with one another and Pat can’t break the promise. Pat appeals to a rich friend Mr. Gates to lend money for the toll, but Mr Gates doesn’t want to get involved and possibly make his business associate Blutto angry, so he refuses the request.

Time goes on and Pat becomes more and more desperate and finally gives in. And after their night together, Blutto takes Pat across the river and our two lovers are united. But rumors get around and Chris hears what Pat had to do to cross the river and is hurt and furious. Chris turns to a good friend, Popeye, and after a few drinks tells the tale. Popeye, in a drunken rage, runs out of the bar to find Pat and beats Pat to a pulp.

As our little tale ends, we hear Chris laughing at Pat’s misfortune.


The Four Bottle Problem

You’ve gone to the store to restock your first-aide kit. As you are leaving, a mangy gray calico rubs against your leg. Ugliest animal you’ve ever seen—missing patches of fur, short chopped off tail, swollen red eye, puss filled sores, and a bloody paw. You squat down and rub the cat’s chin, and when it doesn’t run away, you gently clean its wounds. You pull a nail from its paw, spray antiseptic on everything, and put bandages where you can. Just as you are about to leave, the cat says Thank you in a deep soft voice. Naturally you reply, “Why you’re very welcome.” “I’d like to repay your kindness, so if you please, just follow me,” says the cat. You’re inclined to say you do not need to be repaid, but the calico has already turned and is heading down the back alley. You follow him and eventually he stops at a dusty old antique shop. With an insistent meow, he lets you know you should open the door, and when you do, he leads you inside. The shop is filled with raggedy dolls, chipped ceramic vases, vials filled with colored liquids, strange brass contraptions and a very old woman drinking tea at rickety table. The woman says, “Well, good morning Cat. And who is your friend. It’s been a long time since you brought one to see me.” “This is Kind-hearted Stranger, and I would like to show my gratitude with a sip of potion.” The crone reaches into the recesses of her clothes and pulls out 4 small bottles. She explains that the red potion will make you very-very strong, the yellow potion will make you very-very intelligent, the blue potion will give you lots and lots of very good friends and the green potion will make you very-very rich. You can drink from any bottle you like. Unfortunately, if you drink from more than one bottle, you die instantly.


Which potion do you drink? Why?



Ranking Values

Rank the following things people value from 1 to 26 (most to least important)

 •  Being a good friend 
 •  Popularity
 •  Good Looks
 •  Physical Fitness 
 •  Honesty (in self and others)
 •  Wealth and money
 •  Virginity
 •  Having a good girlfriend or boyfriend (or going steady)
 •  Having age appropriate healthy physically intimate relationships 
 •  Good Self-esteem
 •  Tolerance of people’s differences
 •  Good, close family relationships
 •  My religion or spirituality
 •  Personal Privacy
 •  Freedom to make my own decisions
 •  Helping others
 •  Social Justice
 •  Having primary control of your own computer
 •  Getting your driver’s license
 •  A special pet
 •  Making good grades
 •  Being good at an extra-curricular activity
 •  A Good Best Friend
 •  Reliability (in self and others)
 •  Going to College


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